Monday, October 20, 2008

Let Me Have My Words and Eat Them Too

I love words.

So when Clothilde at Chocolate & Zucchini added an Edible Idiom feature to her website I almost fell out of my chair in glee.

What is an edible idiom? It is Clothilde's series on French idiomatic expressions that relate to food.

This series is such a treat for me. The culinary-inspired phrases she serves up feed my French-starved soul. And the black & white photographs aren't bad either.

Want to play but ne parlent pas français?
Take this English food idiom quiz.

Mots d'Heures: Gousses, Rames
Clothilde's Edible Idioms reminded me of a delightfully diverting 1967 French tome entitled Mots d'Heures: Gousses, Rames by Louis d'Antin van Rooten.

At first glance, Mots d'Heures: Gousses, Rames is a collection of poems. But these funny little verses are not what they seem. Intended to be read aloud, they are a cleverly transcribed collection of nursery rhymes.

The best way to experience the richness of this silly collection is to uncork a bottle of wine (preferably red) and read it in your best French accent. Several times, until you get it. Try this one:

Chacun Gille
Houer ne taupe de hile
Tôt-fait, j'appelle au boiteur
Chaque fêle dans un broc, est-ce crosne?
Un Gille qu'aime tant berline à fêtard.

It's the Mother Goose rhyme Jack & Jill.

For two more excerpts, click here.

On February 2, 2005, Andrew Hearst wrote about this book on his cultural surveillance blog, Panopticist . I swear his experience was identical to mine, except that I was older than 15 out of college when my friend turned me on to The d'Antin Manuscript.

Like Mr. Hearst, the book was out of print when I first learned of it. So I photocopied my friend's book. All 40 pages. Over the years I have hung on to those woefully tattered and faded, binder-clipped pages. Flipping through them once again, the rhymes have not lost their appeal.

Un petit d'un petit
S'etonne au Halles
Un petit d'un petit
Ah! Degres te fallent....

Oh, ha, ha, ha! Such silly fun.

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